From Size 14 – 8. My Yoga Journey

When I was young(er) I was a natural size 6. I didn’t need to diet or exercise, and whatever I ate never made its way to my hips. But that magic power disappeared due to a medical condition and the hormones I had to take for it. I went many sizes up, all the way to 14.

Of course it was annoying from a vanity point of view – the styles that I could rock a few years earlier were now a distant dream. But more than that, I was unhealthy, lethargic, and depressed. Doctors told me that the medicines had caused irreversible changes. Among other things, they told me that I would never lose weight. This was in 2008.

I trudged along for a few years thinking about what I was and what I could have been, in many other ways than just weight. Then because of some personal shifts, I turned to yoga in 2011. I was 33.

I started yoga to have something positive to do. After years of poor eating and feeling sorry for myself I wanted to clear my brain fog. Of course, I had no hope of becoming thinner. But still I practiced everyday, sometimes even seven days a week. I joined Seema Sondhi’s The Yoga Studio in Delhi, where I learned the correct alignment, breath and bandhas.

When I started, I would wear a loose top and harem pants to class. I also couldn’t hold a lunge, and would have to lean against the wall for support. Seema’s classes are hard but I persevered. I loved that I was finally taking care of myself.

When you start practicing you go through something called a ‘yoga valley’. You go deep into that emotional abyss to unearth all negative emotions that are buried within. My purging happened for three months, when I felt even more miserable. But after that the dark clouds lifted for good.

In another couple of months I felt a bit slimmer, but thought that it was my imagination. Then in about six months, people started commenting that I was losing weight. Within a year, I swapped my harem pants for tights, and was working harder than ever. I loved yoga so much that I even did it twice a day – instead of feeling tired, it energised me.

Slowly my habits started changing. I stopped feeling the need for a packet of chips and found brownies with ice cream absolutely revolting. I was eating healthy, not because I had to, but because I enjoyed the taste of healthy food. I haven’t dieted even once all these years, or skipped a single meal. My colleagues who see me at lunch will vouch that all my food is drenched in desi ghee. And still I lost weight, slowly but steadily. I also stopped smoking and now I don’t drink more than a couple of glasses of wine.

But the real test happened when I went to Ananda in the Himalayas and they did my fitness test before a detox. My score was a whopping 83%. The instructor asked me if I was an athlete (athletes score above 75%). When I said no, he asked if I worked out a lot at the gym. I smiled said ‘Only yoga.’ He couldn’t believe I had so much muscle mass especially in my upper body. Of course I do Ashtanga yoga, which is fairly intense, but still.

I have witnessed the yoga miracle. Losing weight is just a side effect of all the internal changes. My habits have changed. And also, my needs have decreased, whether its’s for food, or wine, or another pair of shoes. But it’s something that has happened over many years. I have practiced consistently in the right way under the guidance my wonderful guru Seema Sondhi. I do it with my breath, with my bandhas, and being completely present in the moment.

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